Six Hot Topics from Mike Mularkey's Press Conference


NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Titans coach Mike Mularkey met with reporters on Friday at Saint Thomas Sports Park, one day after the team's 36-22 victory over the Jacksonville Jaguars.

Here's a look at six hot topics (plus a bonus item):


Mariota review**

Titans quarterback Marcus Mariota completed 18-of-22 passes for 270 yards and two touchdowns against the Jaguars.

In the past two games, he has 10 touchdowns vs only one interception.

"I just thought his decision-making last night was very quick,'' Mularkey said. "He already knew where to go before the defense got to where they were dropping. The ball was coming out much quicker for him. "Why was he more accurate yesterday? He's going to sail some more. It's not going to be perfect every time. You get to see him in a game like this and that's what you expect. And all of a sudden he doesn't have a game like this, and it's 'What's wrong with Marcus?' Well, the guy is human. But he made some really good decisions yesterday."

Mularkey said Mariota has proven to be a great "bounce-back" performer early in his career. Mariota blamed himself for some off-target throws in the team's loss to the Colts on Sunday.

"I think he has shown that since he has been here," Mularkey said of Mariota. "He has really been impressive where he may have an off game or an off series. But even after interceptions he'll come back and he has no problem taking a shot down the field. That is him, and I am glad he is on our side, and that he can do things like that." **

Derrick Henry/DeMarco Murray**

Rookie running back Derrick Henry contributed in the team's 214-yard rushing attack on Thursday night, racking up 60 yards and a touchdown. It was his most extensive action of the season.

Running back DeMarco Murray, meanwhile, turned in his fourth 100-yard outing in the last six weeks. Murray gained 123 yards on 21 carries, and scored his sixth touchdown of the season.

Murray played 39 snaps, while Henry played 32.

"I think it was just a flow of how the game was going," Mularkey said when asked about the division of carries moving forward. "I think we have done a good job with these guys in the run game, which is evident. We are running the ball very efficiently. I think it is more of how the game is going along with Derrick."

Mularkey said he likes what he's seen in the running game so far. Murray has 756 yards on the season, while Henry has 221 yards.

"When you watch the tape, there's a lot of yards still that we are leaving out there,'' Mularkey said. "And players will see that when they come back in here on Monday. … We could have more yards than we have."


WR play**

Kendall Wright caught four passes for 84 yards and a touchdown on Thursday night, and fellow receiver Rishard Matthews had four catches for 38 yards and a score.

Mularkey said both receivers have stepped up on recent weeks.

"I think the way we are handling Kendall right now is good,'' Mularkey said. "He is a very good slot receiver, third-down receiver. He is getting snaps on first and second down as you saw last night. I like the rotation we have right now. All the receivers are getting a chance to play and make a difference in the game. I think we are playing better as a group, much more consistent than we were earlier.

"(Rishard) has made a lot of plays. In the last four or five games, he's made plays when we needed plays to be made."


Halfway point**

I asked Mularkey what he's liked most about the first half of the season.

His answer: "I just like how our guys compete, and how important it is to them, how they come in here to work every day. It is all business. We still have some fun in these team meetings and still try to make it a good environment where they enjoy coming to work. But they work when they are here.

"And I think what we are doing on the practice field is carrying over onto the game field."

I also asked Mularkey what needs to improve if the Titans are going to be contenders in December.

"I think making the plays,'' Mularkey said. "The things that have gone the other way, where we haven't make plays, we need to make those plays. The onside kick a week ago, we need to make that play. We need to make our extra points. We need to do the things we are capable of doing."


Taylor talk**

Left tackle Taylor Lewan was whistled for a personal foul on Thursday night, and perhaps as a result the Titans were forced to settle for a field goal on a fourth-quarter drive.

Lewan's penalty took place on the four-yard line, and it backed the Titans up to the 19. Lewan had a similar penalty in a game against the Raiders earlier this season, and more recently, Mularkey put him on notice for his penalties. Lewan has been playing at a high level -- he still hasn't allowed a sack all season.

"I already told him that (officials) warned me that another incident – the penalty was a minor infraction that usually doesn't get called … but they called it,'' Mularkey said. "So I told him, 'That hurt our offense. We had a chance to get another seven right there.'

"He just needs to be smarter than that. I love his aggression and I love how physical he is, but he just has to be smarter, especially when he knows the next thing he does over the line, even as minor as it was, they are going to call him for a penalty and cost us."



Murray (toe) was scheduled for an MRI on Friday, but Mularkey doesn't believe the injury is serious. Murray missed some time in Thursday's game with the injury, but returned and finished the contest.

Cornerback Perrish Cox (concussion) should be back against the Chargers, along with safety Rashad Johnson (neck).

Guard Quinton Spain (knee) is progressing, and there's a chance he could return vs. the Chargers, Mularkey said. Linebacker Aaron Wallace is getting an MRI on his shoulder.

Linebacker Kevin Dodd, who sat out Thursday's game, should be past some shoulder soreness and a full-go next week, Mularkey said.


Bonus item:** Nissan Stadium has hosted more than 350,000 spectators over the past 33 days, and that includes seven major events. It represents the busiest stretch in facility history, which opened in 1999.

Beginning with the Titans-Raiders game on September 25, Nissan Stadium has played host to five football games in just over a month, including TSU's homecoming game against Eastern Kentucky on Oct. 15, which drew 20,000 fans.

In October, the venue also hosted the Beyoncé concert and the Mexican National Soccer team match against New Zealand, drawing more than 83,000 combined spectators.

"With all the improvements we have made to Nissan Stadium, we are always looking for ways to bring unique events to Nashville,'' said Vice President of Facilities and Game Day Operations Bob Flynn. "This series of events in just over a month has allowed us to reach the potential of the venue and we are excited to host a multitude of other events for the people of Middle Tennessee.  I also want to recognize our stadium staff for their hard work and especially Terry Porch and his staff for their great work with the playing surface and the demands it placed on them with the re-sod process and playing a soccer game in three days."

The Titans-Jaguars game was Nissan Stadium's first national primetime matchup since 2014.  The venue will host three more regular season Titans games during the 2016 season and the 19th Annual Franklin American Mortgage Music City Bowl on Dec. 30.

Mularkey said the fan support on Thursday night was big.

"The crowd was great again," Mularkey said. "Great atmosphere, really great atmosphere. It was really nice to have that kind of performance in all three phases in a nationally televised game that shows everybody what we are capable of doing. But our crowd was great again, and hopefully we can get more (fans) back."

The Tennessee Titans take on the Jacksonville Jaguars in Week 8 action at Nissan Stadium. (Photos: Donn Jones, AP)

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